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Children's Literature Reviews
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Brothers in valor : a story of resistance
Michael O. Tunnell.
New York : Holiday House, c2001.
260 p. ; 22 cm.

Annotations:

Three German teenagers who are members of the Mormon Church join forces to create a youth resistance movement during World War II, putting their lives at risk.

Best Books:

Best Children's Books of the Year, 2002 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association, 2002 ; Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association; United States

Reading Measurement Programs:


Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Upper Grade
Book Level 4.3
Accelerated Reader Points 6

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 590

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 6
Title Point Value 11
Lexile Measure 590

Reviews:

Hazel Rochman (Booklist, May 1, 2001 (Vol. 97, No. 17))
In all the flood of World War II and Holocaust stories, very little has been written of the few young Germans who actively opposed Hitler. Based on personal interviews, published biographies, and Nazi archival records, this novel tells a true resistance story through the eyes of a Hamburg teenager. Rudi witnesses the horror of Krystallnacht and the mounting persecution of the Jews in his school and on his street. He does math problems in class about the cost of caring for the mentally and physically disabled. But, secretly, he and his friends Helmuth and Karl, members of the small Mormon Church in Hamburg, listen to the BBC on shortwave radio and distribute flyers against Hitler. Then someone betrays them, and in 1942 the three boys are arrested, brutally tortured, and tried for treason. Their leader, Helmuth, is executed. This is very much a docu-novel, and the dialogue sometimes seems contrived. It's the history that will grab readers, and Tunnell does an excellent job of dramatizing the ordinariness of the boys, their teasing friendship and mounting terror, the sense of what it was like to be young at that time. And he clearly shows that even the most brutal Nazis were often just regular guys at home: Helmuth's stepdad is a member of the SS, but he's gentle with his family. Pair this with Barbara Gehrts' Don't Say a Word (1986) to open up discussion of the bystander's role and the enduring question: What would I have done? Category: Books for Older Readers--Fiction. 2001, Holiday, $16.95. Gr. 6-10.

Donna Freedman (Children's Literature)
This novel is based on an intriguing true story about some German teens who organized a small resistance movement against Hitler. Members of the Church of Mormon, the young men realized that the Fuhrer's hatred did not jibe with the teachings of Christ. Although they knew the possible consequences, they listened to foreign radio broadcasts and put out fliers telling fellow Germans the real truth about the war. Tunnell never lets us forget that these young men were still children, despite their bravery; when awaiting trial, they recall the cakes their mothers made, or games they'd played together just a few years earlier. Yet it's the idealism of youth that makes them take a stand--they can't understand why their elders, who always told them about right and wrong, would simply shrug while atrocities took place. "I'm only telling the truth, like a good Mormon should," one of the boys says. No matter what your religion, you have to admire courage like that. This book could generate some very interesting classroom discussions about valor. 2001, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 10 up.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
This fictionalized account of German resistance to Hitler holds more merit for its subject matter than for its delivery. The narrator, Rudi Ollenik, 11 when the novel opens in 1937, is a Mormon, like his best friends, Helmuth Hübener and Karl Schneider. Although church teachings contradict Nazi ideology, their branch leader, President Zander, runs their Hamburg community "as if God, church, and Hitler were all in league." The boys join Hitler youth groups so as not to make trouble for their parents, but they loathe the Nazis. After the war begins, Helmuth decides to fight back. He gets an illegal short-wave radio in order to listen to the BBC; writes up the British news, thus pointing up the lies of German media; and, with Rudi and Karl's help, distributes his handbills through mail slots and in telephone booths. In 1942 the three, along with a fourth accomplice, are caught, tortured and tried; Helmuth is executed while the other boys are sentenced to prison terms. As Tunnell (School Spirits) explains in an endnote, the handbills described here are translations of the actual reports circulated by the real-life Helmuth Hübener and his friends, a fact certain to impress readers. The author convincingly demonstrates the pervasiveness of Nazi propaganda. The research, however, feels stitched together and the characters are underdeveloped, with the result that suspense never builds; readers may stick with the story for its intrinsic interest, but its grip is unlikely to be visceral. Ages 10-up. (May)"

Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 2001 (Vol. 55, No. 1))
Tunnell bases this fictionalized account on the true-life experiences of Helmuth Hübener and two teenaged friends who were tried and convicted by the People’s Court for distributing anti-Nazi handbills. Rudi, the youngest of the trio, tells how the boys moved from a crisis of conscience over their Mormon congregation’s tacit cooperation with Nazi policy to putting their convictions into action by gathering war information from Allied radio broadcasts and disseminating it throughout their neighborhoods. This is definitely the stuff of high drama, all the more powerful for its basis in reality, but a tonal shift in the prose makes it difficult to pinpoint a receptive audience. Throughout the first half, Tunnell flits among episodes of escalating anti-Jewish discrimination and turbulence at home, church, and school without lingering to examine harbingers of the coming maelstrom in any depth. When the boys are finally apprehended, the text fairly explodes with harsh, explicit detail of brutal interrogations, terrifying incarceration, a sham trial, and ultimately Helmuth’s beheading and the others’ imprisonment. It’s problematic, though, whether readers with the sophistication to handle the grim aftermath of the boys’ resistance work will have followed the tale through its choppier, more child-oriented preliminaries. A final note offers background regarding the boys on whom the characters were modeled, and a timeline of World War II sets events into broader context. Review Code: Ad -- Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. (c) Copyright 2001, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2001, Holiday House, 260p, $16.95. Grades 6-9.

Lucy Schall (VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3))
In this gripping story set in Hitler's Germany, Rudi Ollenik tells how he and his two best friends, members of the Mormon church, are apprehended, tortured, and prosecuted by Germany's highest court for conspiring against the Nazi regime. Based on the true story of the Helmuth Hübener Group, a German resistance organization, this historical novel illustrates the Mormons' tenuous status in a country that considered their faith proof of the American conspiracy. The book emphasizes the sacrifices of German citizens who recognized that opposition to the Nazi regime was a defense of their beloved country. Only eleven years old when the story begins, Rudi describes the pervasive Hitler indoctrination that included pressure to join an appealing youth group whose time schedule competed with his church's, movies that create Jewish villains, and math problems that rationalized the annihilation of undesirables. Five years later, realizing that Hitler considers himself a god, Rudi and his friends listen to forbidden BBC broadcasts and circulate flyers containing the truth about Hitler's government and the war. At times, the actions and dialogue seem too mature for the characters' ages, but these young men are credible as consistently religious, intelligent youths confronted with moral choices. Readers who admire the fortitude and courage of Irene Opdyke in her nonfiction account, In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer (Knopf, 1999/VOYA October 1999), will be fascinated by this fictionalized presentation of a little-known heroic struggle. Its combination of readability and serious focus makes it a strong choice for intergenerational discussion. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Holiday House, 260p, $16.95. Ages 11 to 18.

Subjects:

World War, 1939-1945--Germany Juvenile fiction.
World War, 1939-1945--Germany Fiction.
Mormons Fiction.
Germany--History--1933-1945 Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.T825 Br 2001
00054053 [Fic]
0823415414
9780823415410
9780823415410
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